Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 12; 146, Isaiah 52:1-12, Galatians 4:12-20, Mark 8:1-10
Why do we say, “Thank you?”
From childhood we are taught to sprinkle conversations with a generous seasoning of “thank yous” until they become more of a reflex than a thoughtful response. Usually we say it after we’ve received something, such as a gift or a compliment. The sentiment behind our thanks varies widely. Much (maybe most) of the time we are genuinely grateful for what we’ve received. Other times we are humbled. And then there are those times we feel unworthy of what we’ve been given. Like many phrases which seem simple and easy to interpret, “Thank you” can turn out to be quite complicated.
When Jesus asked the disciples to feed thousands of people with a few fish and loaves of bread (for the second time), he began the meal by giving thanks to God. This may seem little different than the grace said before a church pot luck, but there is one important difference: Jesus hadn’t received anything yet. Though we say grace in advance of a meal, we know there is a meal waiting to be had. For what was Jesus thankful? Perhaps for the faith that God would provide.
Some people believe pre-emptively thanking God or the universe is a formula for actualizing your desires. Beginning from a place of thanks is simpler than that: it helps us acknowledge that what we have is enough – and when we have enough we find it easier to share with those who do not. The idea of saying grace is tied to meals because people were literally praying the food would not kill them, but what if we said a prayer of thanks before a wider range of activities? Thanking God for the time, money, resources, and love in our lives – in advance of the time we need or share them – can greatly improve our attitudes and outlook.
Let’s not reserve our thanksgiving until after we have received. Let’s give thanks in advance for whatever it is God may place in our lives, and we will be prepared to put those gifts to use in ways beyond imagining.
Comfort: Gratitude can change your life.
Challenge: Even on bad days, try to find one thing for which you can offer a prayer of thanks.
Prayer: Thank you for being a loving and generous God. I will trust in your abundance. Amen.
Discussion: What do you take for granted?
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